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Interview with Carol Goldwasser

In the Moment: Interview with Children’s Network Casting Director Carol Goldwasser

Have you ever wanted to know the ins and outs of casting Children’s TV, such as Disney or Nickelodeon shows? Well, you’ve come to the right place, because today we have the Award Winning casting director, Carol Goldwasser, here for Part I of an interview with me, Diane Christiansen, exclusively for Master Talent Teachers.


Carol’s tips for kids, teens and even adult actors are so invaluable if you really want audition advice. She has taught me a thing or two in these interviews that even I didn’t know. You can never stop learning, right?

Diane: Welcome, Carol, it’s so great to have you here, thank you for joining us.
Carol: Thank you for having me.

D: We should get started, because there is a lot that our viewers and readers want to know about casting Disney shows and you are our gal. What made you decide to cast kids and teens TV?
C: Well, it was more like the Universe decided for me. I was working more in Network Television, in comedy, with a partner, and we were looking to expand our business and we sent our casting resume to one of the Children’s Networks. We got hired on one project and then we had some fairy dust on us from that because it was a highly successful project and the work just kept coming and we never looked back. We both work solo now and the work has pursued me. It wasn’t necessarily a choice that I really pursued in a major way, but once I got into it, it felt comfortable, it feels good and I enjoy it, obviously, because I’ve kept doing it.

D: What has been your favorite project to work on?
C: Probably a Disney XD show called “I’m with the Band”. Even though it was a children’s show, it had a lot of adult series regulars. The writing was more sophisticated, but it still played to kids. It had a lot of physical comedy. It was like the 3 Stooges in a rock band. So, it was a really just a group of people who really gelled and who came to the set each day and had a lot of fun. So, I could cast adults as well as kids and teens and it was just a great experience. Interestingly, it was probably the least successful show I’ve worked on, but it was such a joy to show up to work every day. My impression was that the Network hoped that it would be a real flagship show to luring a lot of boys to that Network. They see that as the Network that attracts boys. The Disney channel being the one that’s more girl oriented and Disney XD more for boys. But, for some reason, the numbers didn’t support it continuing. I guess, even though it was joy for the adults to work on, maybe the fact that there were so many adult regulars meant that the kids couldn’t connect as much to what they were seeing on screen. That’s their formula, that the protagonists on the show are actually the same age as their audience.

D: What makes an actor stand out in the audition room?
C: When someone comes in, and this happens with kids and teens a lot, they are looking to me to give them the keys to the Kingdom. They’re looking to me to tell them this is where the joke is or this is how the character is. When someone comes in and they show ME how the character should be played and they not only find every joke on the page, but they elevate the material and they add stuff of their own that really makes the character sing. Then you’re like, “Well, my job is done”. That’s when it’s a joy and that’s what makes people stick out. When they commit to the character, they make choices – sometimes the choices are surprising, but comedy is surprise! I always think comedy is much more difficult to cast than drama because you actually have to find people who can deliver comedic material. In drama, if you look a little bit like what the Producers are seeking, you have a naturalistic acting style and you understand the rhythm of that particular writers words, then you move the exposition along. That’s pretty much what you have to do. In comedy, you have to do all that AND land a joke and in multi-camera sit com, which is the bulk of what I work on, for kids Networks, there’s a rhythm to the language and it’s not honestly naturalistic at all. It’s very theatrical. It’s much harder to come in and nail a comedy audition, I think because it requires a very specific kind of work. You have to understand what the rhythm is, understand where the jokes are and you have to have a little extra something that makes us want to watch you, that makes us want to hang with you and makes us want to turn on the TV set.

D: Like a naturally funny person.
C: Exactly. You’re right and you know you hear people say comedy can’t be taught. The elements of comedy can be taught. But if you read a page and you don’t understand “funny”, and you don’t know where the jokes are, you probably won’t be cast as a funny actor. Unfortunately. I read comedy scripts for a living, so when I read a comedy script, it’s like a road map to me. It’s like joke, joke, joke and I understand where they are. But someone who is unfamiliar with comedy material doesn’t necessarily do that. But if you have a comedy kind of mind and you have a bent for comedy, then hopefully the particular comedy gimmicks can be layered on top of a natural affinity for comedy.

To be Continued…

This has been Part I of a two-part interview with Carol Goldwasser. We wanted to thank you for joining us and invite you to stay connected at MTT for Part II. Have you subscribed yet?

Carol has had 5 nominations for Artio Awards, which are given out by the Casting Society of America (CSA). She’s won two times. Once for outstanding achievement in Children’s Casting Series programming for Hannah Montana and once for Best Children’s TV Programming, also for Hannah Montana.

Diane Christiansen Kids & Teens

3 Guideposts to Breaking Down a Script

By: Diane Christiansen

Here are a few simple strategies to get a quick jump start on not only memorizing, but also understanding your script.

  1. Listen for the voice of your character. Read your lines aloud several times, over and over again while reading the other character lines silently. This way the only lines you hear are those of your character. After a while, you should begin to hear your character’s voice. You will begin to get a feel for the tone, cadence, and personality of your character. Try to find new ways to say the lines, using different inflections, levels of volume, and rates of speech. Continue to play and experiment until you land on a voice that resonates with the essence of who your character is.
  2. Note what is said about your character by the other characters. Take a closer look at what the other characters in the script say about your character. How do they refer to you? Do they refer to you at all? What types of adjectives or phrases are used to describe you? What is the tone of the conversation when your name comes up? All of the various ways in which your character is mentioned or not mentioned in the dialogue of the script may give you some useful hints about the type of person you are portraying.
  3. Find the most important words in each line of the script. Dissect each of your scenes line by line, marking the most important words in each line of dialogue. For your lines, this will help you to better choose moments of emphasis where you may decide to pause on or punch particular words. In addition, identifying key words in your scene partner’s lines will help you find more poignant moments to react to, thereby providing stronger motivation for your character to speak in response. This is a great exercise to improve your listening skills as an actor because it keeps you engaged in both what you are saying, as well as what is being said to you throughout the scene.
Diane Christiansen Kids & Teens

How to “Pop” at Auditions

By Diane Christiansen

Auditioning is hard. It is arguably the most difficult aspect of acting. The actor’s imagination must be at it’s sharpest during the audition. You must be able to walk into a bare room and completely transform the environment and energy of the space, leaving an indelible impression on your observers. In other words, you need to “Pop” at every audition. Here are a few pointers to help you get poppin’.

  1. Treat each audition like it’s the first rehearsal. You know that excited feeling you get during your first rehearsal for a production? The security of knowing that you’ve already landed the role allows you to just relax, have fun, and be creative. You might find yourself taking chances and playing with new choices until you land on one that feels right. This is the same worry-free abandon that you need to bring to the audition. Think of it less as an interview and more as a collaboration between you and whoever is in the room. Go into the audition knowing that you have already done the necessary preparation of your character and be ready to play with your fellow collaborators. Not only will your positive energy be infectious, but you will also give a better performance as a result of swapping the audition tension for first rehearsal enthusiasm.
  2. Find opportunities for nuance. Think fine point details rather than sweeping brush strokes. Finding moments to make your own unique mark on your character will speak volumes in your performance. Don’t overlook the obvious choices readily evident in the script, but also look deeper into the subtext behind the written words. You may discover alternate interpretations of the lines that only you will find based on your own personal experiences and perspective. As a result, you can make the material your own by bringing an interpretation that only you can to the audition. Whether your interpretation is consistent with what the director wants is less important (at least on the first read) than making a committed and nuanced choice that will leave an impression different from anyone else.
  3. Take control of your audition. From the moment you walk into the room, let it be known that this is not your first rodeo. Be a professional. Be confident (or at least fake it!). Greet each person in the room as you enter and say thank you to everyone as you leave. Feel free to set parameters to get you in the proper mind space for your reading. Let your observers know if you need to take moment before you begin and if you will sit or stand (if the option is yours). Make eye contact with each person at some point while you are in the room, so that every individual there knows that you have seen them and so you know that they have each seen you too. Remember, over the course of a full day of auditions, it can become increasingly difficult for casting to distinguish one person from the next. Auditions may start to run together as fatigue sets in and attention wanes. You have the opportunity to fight against the monotony that casting may experience by making a specific connection and giving them something interesting about you to remember. Of course, your performance should be memorable all on it’s own; however, given two equally great performances from different actors, your personality, poise, and professionalism may break the tie. Talent is certainly a prerequisite for the best roles, but people also have to like you and want to work with you. So steer the course of your audition to ensure that you are being represented in your best light.

Actors – Moving Past Challenges to Success

by: Diane Christiansen

Show business is a very uncertain path that we performers have chosen. The ups and downs, successes and failures seem more prominent than most professions. When it’s good, it’s REALLY good, when it’s not, it’s mystifying, if not disheartening. What do we do when we have gone on 50 auditions without a booking? What happens when a dancer is injured and cannot perform or a singer has fried their vocal chords? I compiled a list of things that we can do that seem to lift us up so we can keep on keepin’ on, knowing that it is a perseverance game.

First, we must maintain perspective and the way to do that is like this. When you are feeling like you are getting nowhere, stop and list what you have accomplished in the last year. Literally make a list. Once you can look at your accomplishments on paper, you can begin to feel good again. You can see you have reached goals and used your time productively. This offers you some perspective.

Next, re set your goals and make sure they are do-able. Again, make a list. Then put them away for 6 months. Come back to your list after 6 months and see how many you have accomplished. Cross them off. If some have not been achieved, re state them, declare them so, and add them to a new list.

Above all, have fun. Acknowledge yourself for even the small steps and show yourself some gratitude. Gratitude is another great way to stay on track.

Diane Christiansen Kids & Teens

How to Become a “Disney” or “Nickelodeon” Actor

Diane Christiansen Kids & TeensBy Diane Christiansen
 
Having been an On Set Coach for both Disney and Nick, I have had the pleasure of training some of the finest young actors on these shows.  I have trained such talent as David Henrie, Jason Dolley, Joey Luthman, Amy Bruchner, Mason Alexander and Rachel Sibner to name a few. 
 
It would be impossible to say, “If I train you to do this and that, you will be a Disney or Nick actor”. If anyone ever tells you anything like that, you might consider running in the opposite direction. However, If you ask me what all of these great kids and teens have in common, I can tell you that they all had a lot of natural talent, they all attended classes very consistently and were extremely focused and committed to learning all they could at every private lesson or class they were in to hone their natural skills, at least with me.
 
They also shared a sense of  “fun” within the structure of the set, which we encourage in each class at our studios.  They were all very open and friendly with one other and any new students every week. Another thing they all had in common were wonderful parents. What I mean by that are parents who cared enough to relocate to Los Angeles, and who cared enough to find quality training and who spent a lot of time networking on their behalf.
 
If you do not have that kind of team, I recommend researching and learning on your own, just what success entails. With access to as much as we have on the Internet, there is absolutely no reason why you cannot obtain the knowledge necessary to reach your goals.

Four Resources for Actors Part 4

Four Resources Available to Actors – Part 4: THE MOMENT

“Live each present moment completely, and the future will take care of itself. Fully enjoy the wonder and beauty of each instant. Practice the presence of peace. The more you do that, the more you will feel the presence of that power in your life.”
Paramahansa Yogananda

This quote is by my Guru, Yogananda, and yet it could just as easily become an acting lesson that very much aligned with this lesson I am about to write about.

My mentor and acting coach, Sally Kirkland, once said; “You have to stay very human, from moment to moment. You can’t in any way let the audience know what’s going to happen next.”

This is yet another inspiring quote on being in the moment. How very true. Once we harness the ability to stay in each instant, allowing it to take us to the next, then we can call ourselves actors.

The antithesis of that would be to practice thinking of our next line or anticipating what the other actors line will be. All of that is the opposite of being in the moment.

Many times, I ask actors to keep going when they feel they have made a “Mistake”. Mostly because that mistake can keep you in the moment more quickly than if you had stopped and started all over again. These are the golden moments we live for in our work. Those moments when we go up, the hair stands up on our arms and our mind is a blur. Those precious moments are something that can take you on a journey in a split second from being in your head, thinking about your lines, how you look to others or wondering what the heck to do, to the NOW. They are golden moments that Meryl Streep says she hopes for when she works. They bring you immediately into your own skin, your body, and your mind and then you must KNOW where you are in the story and live in it. Allow those moments; do not be afraid of them, for they will take you places that are delightful, organic and raw. They not only give us a little journey to the NOW, they also keep your scene partner on their toes, wondering, “Where is she going with this?” Thus, needing to follow along on the trip to our truth, our moment. Giving us the opportunity to live through the role and surprise not only ourselves, but also whomever we work with. Of course, having confidence in our Improvisational ability and trust in our scene partner goes a long way. But if you can relax and allow those moments, they are truly what we strive for in each moment of our work as truthful actors. When I say relax, I mean really don’t worry about what will happen, just go with it. Just as Yogananda believed each moment will take care of itself, I also believe that will happen when we forego any upset or frustration and just allow the voyage to take you to yourself to your soul. To performances full of surprise and wonder, much like the journey of Life.

4 Actor Resources-Imagination

Four Resources Available to Actors – Part 3: IMAGINATION

I’d like to preface this installation with a quote by Albert Einstein before I elaborate on the lesson.

“Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.”

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